MMS News – August 2016

CR Inform

The MMS Users Group Conference

October 6-7, 2016

The Crowne Plaza Hotel – Harrisburg, PA

Our 2-day CR Inform conference is your opportunity to optimize your MMS skills, learn new techniques, and network with other MMS users.

  • Exclusive annual professional development event
  • Increase family engagement to maximize student success
  • Report card writing lab
  • Network and collaborate with peer groups
  • Demos of new functionality
  • See clearly with VISION
  • Best practices
  • Usability lab for existing and future features

Register here for CR Inform

 

 

 

Welcome to MMS Online!

The following schools and districts recently became the newest members of the MMS OnLine family. MMS OnLine is the subscription-based version of MMS. MMS OnLine eliminates the overhead of software licensing, server maintenance, and multiple vendor contracts.

  • Union School District
  • Cumberland Perry School District
  • Merion Mercy Academy
  • Bloomsburg School District
  • Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School
  • Riverside School District

Learn more about how you can save time and money with MMS OnLine.

 

 

 

Data driven happiness

How a simple question changes how we look at student information

How does “school happiness” relate to student data? One of the last things school administrators want to talk about is state data submission. More typically, data is looked at as a means to an end—a tool to drive better instruction and measure outcomes. Data is an essential tool in serving students well. It is necessary in calculating fair school funding. But data quality is very hard to maintain, and causes infinite headaches for office staff. It’s not something that often makes educators smile.

I was caught a bit flat-footed when the newest member of a school committee once asked me, “But… are our schools happy?” For years I’ve been answering questions about what data I can help schools capture, track, and quantify. Assessment details, skills attainment, time-on-task, virtual attendance, teacher attendance, exceptional student status, instructional responsibility… we chase those, and seemingly countless other details, in the attempt to justify the funding, track progress, and set better goals.

It took me a moment to realize that this wasn’t a naive question. In some ways it was quite profound… and the question has changed how I think about student data.

At the time, I was doubtful. “I’m not sure,” I said. “What I can tell you is whether kids are coming to school, whether they’re doing their homework, if their skills are developing, whether they’re eating lunch, whether they’re going to the nurse to duck class, whether there’s reported bullying, whether students are eligible for sports, whether they’re on track to graduate… how’s that for a start?”

As anyone working with state reporting knows, that is just a start. The data we collect, from the SIS alone, is deep and complex. And while it’s not the question being asked, those data points often correlate with that simple question, “Is the school ‘happy’?”

So let’s forget about school funding and the bureaucracy of state reporting for a minute, and think about how each of these “data points” might help us qualify the experience we’re creating in our schools.

Happiness as a Strategy

What makes a school happy?

There is a distinction between what defines an individual student’s happiness, and what might define a “happy school.” Data collected by the UK based Institute of Education indicates that it is generally easier to tell if a student is unhappy, than whether they are, in fact, happy. They’ve published an interesting piece about that here.

The questions are slightly different for schools as a whole, although they are based on some similar concerns.

Safety: Do students feel and demonstrate a sense of safety, both physically and emotionally?

Community: How strong is the identity of the school? Is there a sense of belonging to something bigger than the assignment they’re working on?

Opportunity: Is it okay to get things wrong and try again, both academically and socially? Does this increase the students’, and community’s, ambition?

Participation: Are students, parents, and teachers participating in school life? How active are the sports teams, clubs, and arts programs?

Support: Are students engaging leaders in the school? Are teachers approachable? Is the principal a disciplinarian or a resource? Are there peer support groups?

Self-reported data is only part of the story. Despite what a survey might say, to get an accurate picture, we need to include objective measures. That’s where an SIS and other district systems can come into play. Things like attendance, behavior, class grades (as measured by Pennsylvania’s Early Warning System and Intervention Catalog) are basic components, but so are things like food service details, public health, family engagement, and participation in school activities.

Our data needs to be thorough and accurate, but I’ve met very few people who stay motivated by keeping data clean—though, to be fair, I have a number of colleagues who do! More likely, setting a vision that school data is part of a larger mission, perhaps a mission to create a happier school, is what will improve the quality of data, which reduces headaches and actually impacts school funding.

Help me understand this better and I’ll share the results of this survey… What data points correlate to happiness in your schools? Are there regional or demographic trends? What impact do you think including “happiness” in your mission will have on overall school performance?

Take the survey here

 

 

 

Expert webinars

Early Childhood, Before and After School Management with EZ-Care

August 16 at 2:30 PM ET

Use our sister company, EZ-Care, to manage your before and after school programs.

  • Integrated Recordkeeping
  • Scheduling
  • Attendance
  • Pick-up and drop-off communication
  • Health alerts
  • and much more!

EZ-CARE will exceed your expectations for before and after school student data management. Join us for an Expert Webinar to learn how EZ-CARE and MMS can support your goal to manage your student information before, during, and after school.

Register here for the EZ-Care webinar

Learn more about managing student data from one of our Expert Webinars that are coming soon:

LunchTime

– September 20

MMS OnLine

– September 27

Scheduling

– October 4

 

 

 

Professional Development: August Webinars and Timely Topics

We have a full calendar of live webinars lined up for your professional development needs. The convenient live webinars and the recorded webinars from our video library are free to users whose schools have an Unlimited Webinar Subscription. For all other users, the webinars are available for a nominal connection fee.

Here are the topics we have scheduled for August:

Thursday, August 4 Administration

Monday, August 8 New students

Tuesday, August 9 Starting a new school year

Wednesday, August 10 Attendance 101

Thursday, August 11 Starting a new school year

Monday, August 15 Staff Portal 4.5

Tuesday, August 16 Scheduling

Wednesday, August 17 Student filters

Thursday, August 18 Scheduling

Monday, August 22 Skills and Standards

Tuesday, August 23 Attendance

Wednesday, August 24 Attendance reporting

Thursday, August 25 Attendance

Monday, August 29 Discipline 101

Tuesday, August 30 Teacher GradeBook

Wednesday, August 31 Staff Portal 4.5

 

Click here to register for a webinar today.